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May 12th: I Don't Make It Easy

 
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Ben Sullivan
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PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2013 12:34 am    Post subject: May 12th: I Don't Make It Easy Reply with quote

Jackie had to know that it would happen eventually, that Ben would disappear one evening, not respond to texts, not pick up when she called. Not come home at a reasonable hour. She's been able to prevent it from happening a few times by catching Harry, but tonight, she's not so lucky. It's just a shame that it was happening so soon after coming back from two weeks of honeymoon bliss -- two calm, normal weeks of just Ben.

Adam's worried too, though he tries not to let on too much. He actually goes up to his room shortly after dinner -- not to sleep, but to worry in solitude. If Jackie checks on him, though, he does end up falling asleep sometime around midnight, and even in sleep, he looks worried. It's not a good situation for a twelve year old to be in, but it's still the one Adam chooses over being in Vancouver with his mother.

It's late, late-late, after-bars-close late, when the side door downstairs unlocks, opens. He's alone (thankfully), and whoever he is (because it can't be Ben -- Ben would have called, would have texted, would have done something), when he creeps into the bedroom that Ben and Jackie share, there are two very, very obvious observations to make: he's wet, wet enough that he's not dripping, but his clothes are definitely all wet, like he'd gone into water somewhere completely clothed no more than half an hour ago, max -- and the second thing, the way he smells, he was probably in the water at the docks.

It was something that Jackie had prompted herself for many times in the past, especially in the weeks leading up to the wedding. She was marrying Ben and along with that she was inheriting his boys. They would be part of her life now, for better or worse. It was easy to get lulled into a false sense of security while staying in France and Italy for two wonderful weeks without incident, but maybe it was actually better for it to be happening now. To remind her what she signed up for and why Ben made such an effort to give her so many good moments when they were together. They were for her to clutch onto when Ben wasn't around.

There have been a number of nights like this that Jackie has had to deal with on her own, but this is the first she has shared with Adam in such a way. Them together, officially family, in their home, but missing one important piece. She checks on him probably more than she should, while he does his homework and reads and even a few times after he's fallen asleep. She promises herself that Ben will be okay. It's a ridiculous notion, but she has created an idea of security for herself that Ben will be okay because Sam is with him. Sam wouldn't let anything happen to Ben. So while Sam protects the system that is Ben, Jackie watches over the system that is their home front until his return.

Jackie is in bed when not-Ben arrives, though she's no where close to being asleep. The lamp on her side table is flipped on as she rises to sit up in place, looking over the soaked and smelly frame of her husband. With him simply standing there, not saying anything, it's impossible to tell who she's looking at but no matter who he is he needs a change of clothes. Jackie slides off the bed to move to Ben's dresser to fish out a fresh set of pajamas. "I'm too tired to figure out what the hell happened tonight. Are y'alright?" That was all that mattered. Everything else was additional information to be sorted out another time. For now she just needed to know they were okay.

He's already peeling off his jacket by the time Jackie's getting out of bed. His hoodie and shirt follow without pause -- maybe the lack of shame is a hint? The dry snicker that follows her question definitely is. "Yeaaah, I'm great, greatness. Lucky, too -- didn't know you'd be waaaiting up for me." Harry shoots her a wink, laughing again, and slumps back against the closed bedroom door so he can pull his boots off one at a time, with only some struggle, so he must not be too trashed.

Yes, the moment he started stripping down Jackie was far too aware of who she was dealing with. "That's the fun part. I'm always goin' to be waitin' up for you when you get home now. Incentive to come home, right?" Better to make the idea of him coming home that much more pleasant so he didn't wake up somewhere she didn't even want to begin to imagine.

She moved over to him, lifting up a pile of pajama bottoms, a tee, boxers, and socks. "Please just wait for me to get in bed before y'change. I would rather y'go in the bathroom but I don't want Adam t'get woken up." She realized only after her master plan was explained that she was trying desperately to not see her husband naked. Though, this wasn't her husband here and now, was it? Besides, it was better to make it totally clear to Harry that she didn't want to see any additional inches of him considering they would be sharing a bed without the buffer of booze like before.

"Can't think of a better one," in response to her comment about her waiting up being incentive for him to come home. He pairs it with a sly little smile, and he's probably getting the wrong impression, because he's reaching for one of her hips once she's moved close to him. Her words get him to reconsider, though -- so he really must be mostly sober -- and he makes a face when he takes the change of clothes from her, though it doesn't last very long, and he laughs again. "What are you, shy? Never seen one before? What were you waitin' up for me for if you weren't waiting for this?" He doesn't exactly listen to her request to wait, but mercifully, wet jeans are a pain to get out of, and it takes him long enough to struggle out of the rest of his clothes that Jackie will have plenty of time to hide.

At least Jackie must know by now that Harry is capable of taking a hint, and he has to know by now that Jackie isn't interested in him, so he does get dressed, and when he gets into bed, he's staying on the side that Jackie isn't -- mostly, anyway, because he does make the attempt to sneak one hand under the covers to her hip. He's whistling tunelessly, an attempt at innocent, while he does it, which makes it anything but.

She's ready to dance away from the touch of his hand to her hip, but he's thankfully reaching for the clothes instead and there's no need to pull out any fancy moves for tonight. "You figured me out, Harry. I'm a virgin an' all. Untouched an' innocent. Even if I saw it, I wouldn't know what to do with it." Jackie carried it on much further simply because it was hilarious to be able to say it all. At least the wetness of the denim rescued her from a peep show while he wriggled his way out of his jeans. She made her way back to her side of the bed and slid beneath the covers with her face tucked into the pillow until she could feel his weight crawling into bed beside her.

Once he's settled a hand strays out from beneath the covers to flip the side table lamp off then she's curling up comfortably. Now that Ben, not-Ben, Harry was home safely and in bed she could actually get some sleep. Or she could attempt to while Mr. Grabby played games beside her. "You touch me and I'm gonna make sure you associate it with gettin' punched in the junk. You hear me?" Quiet, casual, but she didn't sound like she was joking.

At least he knows Jackie's joking when she talks about being a virgin, because he's snickering then, too. Her threat, though, he's not so sure about, and she should be able to feel him hesitate beside her, like he's weighing his options, deciding if it's worth the risk. Lucky for Ben (and for Jackie too, because she'd probably feel guilty about it eventually if she wasn't bluffing), Harry gives up with a quiet whine and a huff of a sigh, frustrated -- though, as always, the negative energy doesn't last, replaced by another quick rush of laughter as he turns over to face away from her. "That is not a nice way to play rough. Even for somebody that likes to play. Just, y'know... for future reference."

She waited for it, having no idea which way Harry was going to go. Was he going to make her regret allowing them both to sleep in the same bed? Was he going to make her leave Ben with a horribly sore surprise to wake up to tomorrow morning? No, he turned away and even though there was that huff Jackie knew he wasn't actually going to be angry with her. "Is that right? I'll have to keep it in mind for the day when a man finally deflowers me." It was easier to joke now because everyone was home, in bed, where they were supposed to be one way or another. It might be obnoxious to deal with Harry now and then, but at least he was here. Come morning time Ben would be back, they could go to church, and their day could proceed like any other Sunday. Normalcy and dull sounded delightful as Jackie slowly faded off to sleep.
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Ben Sullivan
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PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2013 12:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When Ben wakes up the next morning, he's relieved to find that he's in his own bed. He doesn't remember going to bed the night before, but that's not uncommon for him. Strange that he's not very hungover, but he'll take it. The smell, though... it's not the worst he's encountered (being a homicide cop for years, he's gotten desensitized, partly, to horrid smells), and it takes him a half a moment to pinpoint it, but eventually he does, and then? He doesn't want to know. But he's waking Jackie up anyway, putting his hand on her shoulder and giving her a gentle little shake. "Hey. Morning. Church? I'm gonna take a shower, but what happened?"

Considering Jackie went to sleep fully aware that Harry was in bed with her, she was hypersensitive to being touched. So, it didn't take much more than Ben's gentle shake to stir her, but his question of church assured her it was okay to let her guard down now. Harry's first thought on a Sunday morning would not be church. She rolled aside to face him, though she was not her usual cuddly self. It probably wasn't hard to figure out why. "Yes, church. Absolutely, shower."

Jackie inhaled and instantly regretted it. "I don't know what Harry did while he was out, but it smells horrible. He was wet an' you reek like the docks." Funny that every encounter Jackie has with the docks includes Harry. "So, maybe he decided to go for a swim?" She reached out to brush her fingers against his cheek. "But he got you home safe. Put on pajamas, went to sleep without much of a fuss." The little victories needed to be celebrated. Even if the latest one had a very large consequence. "I'm going to have to strip this bed and bleach everythin' on it."

Ben doesn't take offense that Jackie isn't overly affectionate right now. He even makes a face when she affirms his suspicions -- yes, it's the docks. His expression softens when she traces her fingertips along his cheek and listens to how easy -- relatively -- the night went after Harry showed up here. He even manages to laugh a little when Jackie says she's going to have to bleach everything. "I think I'm going to take the safe route and just burn these." With a little pull at the front of his shirt. "And whatever else he was wearing in the water last night." He gives her a little wince of a smile when he gets out of bed. "Might use up all the hot water. We can catch the second service?" Pretty certain she's not going to protest his taking extra time in the shower this morning, he doesn't wait for her answer before leaving the room.

Really, though, he doesn't take all that much time, and even though it hadn't exactly started out normal, it progresses like a pretty normal Sunday morning once things get going: shower, shave, Sunday best, cajoling an increasingly attached-to-sleeping-in Adam into waking up to get ready for church. Eating cereal and reading the paper while Adam and Jackie get ready. Completely normal, calm, easy Sunday morning.

Even though Jackie was always looking forward to church on Sunday she wasn't going to pass up the opportunity for a little more sleep. Especially if it meant her husband sitting beside her in the pew wasn't going to reek of rancid water from the docks. Ben doesn't wait for an answer and she doesn't give one before she's already curling up into her pillow for a few more stolen moments of shut eye.

She doesn't linger in bed for too long though and eventually she's getting up. The bed is stripped and everything is put into a pile to be handled after church. Jackie gets dressed, does her make-up and hair, then she's walking behind Adam down the stairs after she managed to get him to finish putting himself together. He sinks down at the dining room table across from Ben and there's just enough time for him and Jackie to eat some cereal and drink a little orange juice as well before she's shooing them all out the door to the car.

Jackie's truck is somewhat nicer than Ben's beater, not by much, but when it was the three of them going somewhere it gave each of them a little more room to take his car rather than the single bench seat Jackie's had. She had made a beeline for Ben's car, more focused on where they were going rather than what was around them, but eventually something seemed so out of place that she had to stop to figure it out. Then all at once it smacked her in the face and she was blinking Ben's way across the roof of the vehicle. "Ben... where's my truck?"

Ben hadn't noticed either, that Jackie's truck wasn't parked alongside his. He pauses when she asks the question, driver's side door to his car already open. "Uh." And he glances back over his shoulder, toward the street, like maybe it'll be there for some reason. It's not, though, and he gives Jackie a little smile afterward, though it's sort of sheepish and part cringe. "I've no idea." Which isn't entirely true; he's putting two and two together -- his condition this morning, Harry's usual hangout, the absence of the truck. "We can look for it after church?" It's a question, because he's not sure if she'd rather skip church altogether in favor of looking for her truck; he knows she's attached to it. Adam just sighs at the sudden uncertainty in the morning, leans up against the car to wait for the adults to finish figuring out the latest issue.

Jackie had already come to the same conclusion that Ben did, that Harry had somehow found her keys instead of Ben's and took her truck for a joyride last night instead of the beater. With his smile her expression flattened. "Sonofa-" Adam's grumpy movement made her that much more aware of his presence so she thankfully didn't finish what she was about to say. She glances between the pair. Church or truck? This was actually much more of a difficult decision than she figured it would be. But it was after a round of drawn out silence that she sighed and tugged the passenger side door open to sink into her seat. "Church first. We'll find the truck after. It ain't like it's gonna be goin' anywhere."
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PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2013 12:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jackie's final statement just makes Ben wince more fiercely -- it's a pained little smile, a look he's mastered. "Yeah, good point." Ben and Adam both pile into the car too, and Ben speeds the car off to the little church house they're becoming regulars at.

He's still not really buying into the whole church thing, the faith package, but he goes through the motions well enough. Even if he doesn't have the faith required to believe in everything presented, he can still find a little peace in the friendly atmosphere, the feeling of togetherness and community. He's glad that Jackie's found a place like this to try, one that's so inviting.

The hour goes by quickly, though, and when they all get back into the car, he doesn't bring up Jackie's truck, at least not directly. Heading in the direction of home instead of the docks, but it's clear he hasn't forgotten, because he's eyeing Adam in the rearview mirror when he asks, "Think you can handle staying at home for an hour or two? You don't want to play hide and seek with an inanimate object. It's not as fun as it sounds." Adam makes a face, because it doesn't sound fun at all, and just nods.

Ben waits until he drops Adam off at home and the car is headed in the direction of the docks before he says anything to Jackie. "Maybe it's fine. My car's been fine plenty of times, right?"

Maybe Ben has figured out something Jackie doesn't know, but she really does assume that her truck will be hidden somewhere around the docks the same Ben's has been during countless incidents just like this one. The only thing that bothers her is the anticipation and worry of it all, wanting her truck to be safely home in the garage rather than at the docks. She remembered the last time she had been at the docks and helped destroy a vehicle that was there with Harry for fun. No one would do that to her truck, would they?

Jackie is silent during the ride to church and during service she doesn't have the same spark about her when she listens to the sermon or sings along to the hymnals. She's going through the motions and is relieved when it's all said and done so they can make their way to the edge of town after detouring to drop Adam off at home. "We won't be gone long, Adam. Y'can have some sort of snack but when I get home I'll make lunch for us all so don't spoil yourself, alright?" A weak smile was flashed his way, something to assure him that this was all no big deal. Just a little hiccup in their day soon to be overcome.

Any attempts at a good mood are gone after Adam's dropped off and they begin their game of hide and seek. "Of course it's fine. It's my truck. It has to be fine." It didn't even sound like she was attempting to lie to herself to make her feel better. She really did believe it. "I just don't understand why in the hell he had to grab my truck. He probably doesn't even know how to drive a stick. I don't know how I missed it bein' gone, but I didn't even leave the house yesterday after I ran some errands in the mornin'. After you left an' didn't come back I just stayed home with Adam, takin' care of everythin' there." A roll of her eyes. In hindsight it was ridiculous and she should have known.

"He must know how, if he got it to... wherever he got it to." It's probably not helpful to be pointing that out, and he gives Jackie a sidelong glance afterward, quick, before rolling his shoulders back, trying to ease out a little tension -- and a little soreness; he hurts, muscle strain in his shoulders and back he can't explain. "I guess you should just hide your keys better next time?" He's cautious in making the suggestion, and luckily, they're just rolling into the shipping-crate laden docks now, and he slows the car down to a crawl. "You want to get out and look? Or stay in the car for now?" They've done it both ways when hunting down Ben's car.

"He could dummy his way through it. Someway, somehow, Harry would be able to figure out how to do somethin' without knowin' what in the hell he's doin'." It was a weird realization in that moment. Did she know Harry a little bit better than Ben might? They never really have gotten the chance to interact did they? It felt like Ben and Jackie simply discussing a mutual friend.

The suggestion about her keys, while coming from the right place, earns Ben a sidelong dirty look. "Some things are sacred. A girl's truck should be sacred. I'm gonna have to get myself a bedside gunsafe jus' to store my keys." She sounded dead serious, too. Jackie's shaking her head at his final question, waiting for him to throw it in park but not for him to turn it off when she's already opening the passenger side door and clambering out.

A pretty blonde walking around the docks in her Sunday's best. It sounded like the beginning of a bad joke but at least it being early in the afternoon reduced majority of the unsavory characters. "No way in hell I'm sittin' in the car when my truck is somewhere around here." The door was closed behind her and she was on the move, a woman on a mission.

It's a very strange realization, and a similar one is coming over Ben, too. They've talked about Harry before -- about his tendencies with women -- they've dealt with the fallout of his partying and his shamelessness, they've mopped up little bits of weird almost-guilt because of his actions, of misplaced hurt feelings. But actually talked about what he's like? His personality -- his skillset? It does just feel like they're talking about a mutual friend, or even more accurately, a friend of Jackie's that Ben's never met -- and that's so, so strange, to realize that they were really talking about a part of him, that that friend was sitting there in the car with them that second.

It's something he doesn't want to focus on now -- can't focus on now -- so he welcomes the distraction Jackie provides when she suggests getting a gunsafe for her keys. He actually stifles a noise, maybe laughter, maybe disbelief (though he doesn't doubt she's serious). "Right." He's not surprised when she says she wants to continue the search on foot, so he's quick to throw the car into park, kill the engine, and get out of the beater to follow after her. "We'll find it. Don't worry." He gives her a little nudge in the arm with his elbow, chances a crooked smile at her, slight, and then heads off in the opposite direction.

"I know we'll find it." Much too confident for her own good. "I just want it to be in one piece when we find it. No broken windows or bull like that, y'know?" She gives him a look, knows he's trying to do his best to make her feel better, but this was one of those rare times when Jackie couldn't manage a smile. Not even fake one. She does nudge him in return but when he turns off in the opposite direction she continues on along the path she has chosen. One of them had to be able to find this truck.

It had been somewhere around an hour of Ben and Jackie wandering the docks. They would pass by one another now and then, check in, and so far they had both come up with nothing. This was around the time in the game of hide and seek with Ben's beater when Jackie always got nervous, wondering if this was the time it would be gone for good. But it was just a little while after their last check in when a shout came around the docks, loud and clear in his direction. "Ben!" Somehow, even with that one word, it was easy to tell by her tone that something wasn't right.

Ben, at least, doesn't usually get nervous when looking for his own car. Before he was living in Rhydin, sometimes his car would be missing for a day or two before somebody at the impound would call him to let him know it had turned up there. Once in a while, it wouldn't ever turn up at all -- which is why he never buys anything nice now, even though he can afford it. Not worth the risk.

However, when it's Jackie's truck that's missing? That's a little different, and the longer the search continues, the worse the feeling of dread gets, though he doesn't let on that he's feeling that way when they check in with each other, managing to stay carefully positive for Jackie's sake. When she calls his name, though, his heart sinks. "Yeah!" Calling back in her direction, and he jogs the short distance to where it sounded like she was, skidding to a stop a few paces off. "What, what's wrong?" He's afraid of the answer, so he keeps his focus on Jackie when he walks the rest of the way toward her.
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PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2013 12:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When he finds her, Jackie is actually standing at the edge of a the docks right near the water and her gaze is intent on what's in front of her even after Ben shouts back and heads her way. She doesn't seem to have an answer for him, no words anyway, and when he's close enough she's lifting a hand to point down into the water.

There, just barely bobbing out of the surface of the water is what looks to be the tailgate of a truck. What gave it away? The red paint and the bold white letters that read "FORD" across it. Her hand sinks down to her side, still nothing to say. Barely a peep aside from a slow inhale followed by a loud sigh.

It would be a lie if Ben said he was surprised. Still, he'd been hoping against hope that Harry'd come home wet with dock-water for some other reason. No such luck. He stops alongside Jackie, reaches up one hand to rub at the back of his neck, wincing. "...oh."

"Oh..." She's repeating him, trying to keep the irritation out of her tone. Jackie knows full well that it's not Ben's fault that Harry decided to joy ride her truck right into the water, but unfortunately for him he has the culprit residing in his head and Jackie had to direct her feelings somewhere. Quiet ticked on for a short while before Jackie managed to speak calmly and quietly still staring down at Betty Ford's watery grave. "I'm not mad... I'm just disappointed."

In a way, that was worse, her disappointment. "I wouldn't blame you if you kicked his a*s the next time you saw him." Without looking at her, eyes still on the bobbing tailgate. Sighing, he lets his hands drop, reaches over to touch her, just barely, on the back of the arm. "Did you want me to call somebody to get it out?" It's a hesitant question, for more than one reason. He's not really sure how much Jackie can address the issue without losing her cool (and really, he's already impressed at how well she's handling it so far), and beyond that, he's just bad at cleaning up his alters' messes anyway, preferring to just move right on from them as best as possible.

"I'm going to verbally murder him for what he did to m'truck!" So much for not being mad. She wanted to make that clear though, that she wasn't going to lay a hand on Ben. It was something that had happened between them, the not-Bens and Jackie, more than she would like to admit but it didn't mean it had to be a habit they kept up. She didn't jerk away when he touched her but there wasn't much of a reaction to it either. She was seething in place, not taking her eyes off her beloved truck.

"It's wrecked. I even if by some miracle I got it runnin', the only way I would be able to get that stench out of the cab is by soakin' it in kerosene and settin' her on fire. All the money I would have t'dump into gettin' her fixed, even if I managed some of it on my own, would add up to more than she cost." A hand went over her face, rubbing at her forehead with another heavily heaved sigh. "I'm jus' gonna have t'look at what I got an' buy a new one. Maybe I'll get lucky." And just as calm as she had been in that last moment, she shifted to the other side of the spectrum. "I'm gonna tear him a new a*shole!"

Ben knew it had been a dumb question, and he's not surprised by her shooting it down. He bites his lip while she explains, and actually opens his mouth to say something in response -- but he's interrupted by her last (understandable) outburst, and he winces before going on. "I can help you out with it." He gives up on trying to soothe her through touch -- she's past that point, he's pretty sure -- so he shoves his hands into his pockets. "It's not your fault; you shouldn't have to pay for it." Not that it had been his fault either. Sort of. "We'll find you another one." Another short hesitation, glancing aside to her again, before, "Sorry this happened." It's as much an apology as he can make.

His offer finally causes her to tear her gaze off the truck in the water and to look his way. "That's really nice of y'to offer, sweetheart, but it's about much your fault as it is my fault. I should have put my keys somewhere sneakier, I guess." An eyeroll, obviously not pleased that something so simple could have avoided all of this. "Y'can help me look." She could give him that much at least since she didn't want to turn down all of his efforts.

Jackie's attention shifted back to the truck, shoulders folding in on themselves in defeat. "Yeah, I am, too." She knew he couldn't simply say sorry. Ben didn't do it and him apologizing for the boys was a slippery slope. Being sorry it happened? She would take it. Finally, she's reaching out to grasp at the crook of his elbow. "I wanna go home so we don't keep Adam waitin' too much longer." And because staring at her truck was only going to make her go through bouts of rage sprinkled with utter sadness. "I'll make lunch for us all like I said I would, toss the bedding in the washer, then I think I want a nap. Somethin' to clear my head."

Ben wants to protest, insist that he pay for it, or at least part of it, but not now. He lets it go, can always bring it up again later, when she's less tired. He heads toward his car with her, putting his hand over hers once she's got it in his elbow. "I'll do the wash while you make lunch. I could get Adam out of the house too, after, if you want us gone for a little? Some alone time?" To mope and/or be pissed off. He'd understand either. "Or I could take a nap with you. Whatever you want." Easy. It's not guilt that's motivating him, but he still feels bad about what happened and wants to do what he can to help her feel better. It's not too long back to his car, and after he unlocks it, he opens up the passenger door for her, sneaks a kiss to her temple before letting go to get into the car himself.

"That's nice of y', sweetheart. I think that sounds like a plan. I'll make lunch, you toss the things in the washer. But I don't wanna shoo Adam out of the house. I'll more than likely just make the bed back up an' test it out for a while." Because sleeping sounding much better than thinking about her truck slowly sinking to the bottom of the vile dock waters. She offered a faint smirk aside to him. "I was half expectin' you to give me hell about takin' a nap considering that was the name of the game for me all throughout our honeymoon." After he opens the door to her and presses the kiss to her temple she's sliding into her seat, shutting the door behind her and peering out the window in the direction they just came from.

He actually laughs as he goes around to the driver's side of the car, and she can probably hear it even though the door is closed. "Yeah," once he's in the car and starting it up, "if the situation was different, I probably would be giving you hell." He glances aside to her, and after he's got the car moving toward home, reaches over to put his hand on her knee. "Plus, it's got to be the jet lag. I don't know, it wouldn't really be sporting of me to harass you when you're still recovering from that, right?" The second look he gives her, though, sly but mostly restrained -- she's got to know that that won't be the case forever. "Besides, after last night? Whatever happened, I could use a nap too." It sounded like a good afternoon, a relaxing one. Needed, after the way-too-much excitement of the morning.
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